Career Story: Customer Service Representative For A Non-Profit Organization

Customer Service Representative For A Non-Profit Organization

Job Title: Customer Service Representative

Education: BS: Studio Arts & English, Texas University

Previous Experience: Administrative Assistant for locally based national corporations for 10+ years; part-time at incoming phone bank taking orders for retail catalogs for 3 years; receptionist at family-owned environmental service company that handled federal government accounts; full and part time artist, accountant, and sales rep for own art studio for 30 years.

Job Tasks: American Red Cross is a non-profit organization that supplies direct disaster relief for local and national disasters victims; educates employees of local companies and the general public in CPR/First Aid, Preparedness for potential disasters, Care of children, the elderly, and pets; and coordinates with other non-profit and governmental agencies to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. As an employee I adhere to the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Movement: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality.

My primary duties include interacting with the general public, clients in need of relief, and other support agencies on a daily basis by telephone, in person, by fax, and by e-mail. I evaluate, process, record, and organize all paperwork and files for the Emergency and Disaster Response Team and for the Preparedness and Training Authorized Providers and Instructors. Specialized software is used to record this information and generate needed reports. An extensive background in Mircosoft Word helped make the transition to new and unique software quick and effective. A high level of general office and computer skills is essential for this position.

Flexibility and attention to detail are other essential skills. The ability to transition to different activities smoothly without losing valuable time "shifting gears" is mandatory. Since I support a branch manager and two specialists I must be able to "juggle" a variety of tasks - all of which are priority- and achieve customer satisfaction to the public.

Examples of my everyday activities include giving relief to families who have lost all their possessions to a home fire by quickly processing their paperwork so that funds will be immediately available to them; following up on previous disaster clients and arranging for additional assistance or closing their casework; generating new volunteers and arranging for their training by establishing classes online, arranging for instructors and venues for the classes, processing the rosters, organizing the class materials, and seeing to their delivery to the venue. Then I process the class rosters to print the certificates, give appropriate credit to the students online, and update their hardcopy files. Students from the general population receive the same attention plus their class fees are taken, processed according to payment type, receipts are written, deposits made and week-end, month-end, and year-end balance sheets created. Additionally, sales of retail merchandise such as T-shirts, first aid kits, CPR masks, caps, books, pins and pens, and many other items are ordered, displayed, sold, receipted, and inventoried.

Other tasks which are necessary but not performed everyday include travel to branch and headquarters for meetings using company vehicles; creation and manning of booths for health fair and community activities; ordering and maintaining supplies for the office, training, and casework; special events arrangements for staff and volunteers including cost-free venues, refreshments, and awards; working with local media- TCV, radio, and print- for free publicity about our training offerings and our need for volunteers and donations; and positive interaction with instructors, donors, potential volunteers, and the media. The variety of duties in this position is never ending.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of this job involves interaction with people. Some are sad and in need, some are joyful at recent accomplishments, and a very, very few are unhappy. Those are the best because I love to create a smiling face from a scowl. The only downside to this job is the limited funds to run the office. Also, being at a non-profit means you'll never get rich working here. You'd better be interested in enrichment of another kind.

Job Tips:
1. Learn to focus on the expectations and needs of others. Learn to listen. Learn to see.

2. Become a volunteer or intern at the non-profit of your choice. This can be a stepping stone to a permanent position and growth within the company. You don't have to be right out of school to be an intern, retirees are welcome.

3. And the general office skills help too.

Additional Thoughts: Do you see yourself as only a taker? Don't look here. Want to pay back a little every day - this is for you. Like variety in the workplace. That's us! How about that adrelin rush of responding effectively to an emergency? Now you're talking!

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